Wooden human figure sitting alone on a box on sky blue background

What Isolation Has Taught Us

During this pandemic situation we experience how much we miss others, don’t we? Usually we want to have independence, not dependence. But maybe now we are able to admit that we are actually dependent on each other, instead of independent.

It’s not only taking walks with our friends that we miss, or playing sports. It also seems that no one likes this situation we call lockdown. We don’t even like hearing that word. And we don’t care much for the idea of being alone either. At least not now. Before, we liked being alone. We would even tell people, “Why don’t you leave me alone?” When we got frustrated we’d say, “I’m going to my room” and slam the door. But now it’s a little different. Now we realize how precious it is to be with other people.

I watched a story on TV a while ago, about someone in a prison. They do not allow prisoners to have pets, and many times they are isolated. But this one prisoner found a way to have a pet. How? It was a cockroach. Whenever it came around, this person fed the cockroach little breadcrumbs or other bits of food, whatever they had to share. And that is a story of how one being felt, emotionally and mentally, a sense of calmness, or affection, towards another being. That feeling went at least one way. We don’t know what the cockroach was thinking.

So that prisoner made a beautiful cockroach friend. I listen to these kinds of stories and interviews because they are very touching. It’s especially beautiful to see how two beings can connect, even under such difficult circumstances, one being in prison and the other one stuck in being a roach. There is very bad social media against cockroaches, you know; everybody around the globe hates them. Except for this one person, which is so nice. Such stories of love and affection show how we need each other. How we all need each other –– you and me. 

And at this point during the pandemic, we have had a bit of direct experience of how much we miss others when we’re unable to be together. Perhaps for the first time, we’re beginning to love others a little bit more than ourselves. Especially the delivery people. Usually we complain about the nurses and doctors, but now we are seeing their selfless actions. We are beginning to love them a little bit.

We’re beginning to have a greater sense of appreciation for others. Not just from our head, but from our heart, really feeling that appreciation. And that’s really a beautiful gift, you know. So, everything that we’ve learned from our experiences of the pandemic –– all of that is wisdom. We can see clearly now, the great wisdom we have gathered this past year, and so we must not waste it. We must bring that wisdom into action that can be of benefit to ourselves and to the world.

Appreciating Connection: An Exercise

If we take the time to look, we can readily see how we need each other’s companionship and support. As an example, we can consider the effect of our connection with just one person. 

1. Think of someone you haven’t seen for quite some time –– someone you would like to see.

2. Recall what it’s like to be with them. Bring their face and physical appearance to mind, then the sound of their voice speaking to you.

3. Holding this picture of your friend or relative in mind, smile. Yes, actually smile, right now. Allow yourself to feel what it’s like to respond to them, to their presence.

4. Now make a wish for that person. Remember something they enjoy or appreciate or value, maybe an outing, or a favorite food, or a donation to a cause they care about. It can be simple. Nothing too special, just something you know they would like. 

5. Imagine them receiving that from you in some way. Take a few moments to enjoy their enjoyment. Really feel it in your body and mind.

6. Holding your friend in mind. Ask yourself, “Where do I feel our connection?” and “Does this connection change according to our physical distance from each other?” No rush to answer. Just sit for a few moments, rest in that feeling, and notice.

7. You could do this exercise while considering different people in your life, one by one. Some you may feel closely connected to, and some you may only know indirectly. Each time you do the exercise, when you sit with your experience at the end, notice whether your answer to the questions changes, and if so, how it changes.